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Second Conference for Educators

The Pedagogical Academy of the Protestant Educator’s Association (GEE) held their second study session in mid-January for educators at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The goal of the meetings with ITS was to give the educators an insight into the research options and various possibilities for collaborative work. “We are delighted with the exchange,” said Dr. Susanne Urban, Head of Research at ITS. “It gives life to our work, bringing new energy and input from the outside.”

The program for the three-day conference, which was attended by nine educators from universities, schools, and institutions from central and southern Germany, included, among other things, a tour of the archives, an introduction to the digital research program, and a discussion of sample documents. Also, for the first time, educational materials that were prepared by the ITS for schools, were presented.

During the meetings, it was also agreed to form a collaboration with the ITS in creating a curriculum for Holocaust Studies for grades one through the end of high school. “I have the impression that the material and the ideas we have been shown through ITS are good starting points for our project,” said Dr. Rainer Möller from the Comenius-Institut Münster. Currently, the participating teachers are gathering practical examples and suggestions for this venture.

Neuman Kirsten, high-school teacher in Coblenz, explains the approach of the ITS of  its teaching efforts through the effects of the archives. “What do these last things tell you about a person? What story can I write about these people? We can approach this issue from different levels.” Wolfgang Wendel from Herborn finds the description of the identities interesting. “I did not expect that the issue is so important for us today. How did the National Socialists describe and classify identities? How do we represent our own identities in digital age platforms such as Facebook? We need to establish an awareness here. In this regard, I am very motivated from this conference.”

There is agreement among the educators that the topics that are educated should be relevant to the children’s lives. They could research fates from the same place or neighborhood, tell the story of children from the same school or the biographies of persecuted Muslims. “Of course, we must also consider the child’s development and psychology,” said Möller. “It’s a question of what we can expect from the children.”

The group will prepare the curriculum using the skills of the ITS and have a discussion about the results, said project manager Gerda Koch of the GEE. A further meeting will take place in Bad Arolsen, as soon as the materials and complementary samples of the documents will be developed. “The story brings to life the ITS archives. Since we have been here, this whole bright light has risen to me.”